Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Questions and Answers

I was very kindly nominated for this award by Maria at Dotty's Daughter .  There are some things I need to do, which are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Copy/paste the above button to your post/sidebar
3. Answer the 10 questions the person who nominated you has asked.
4. Nominate 5 bloggers you would like to share with your readers and let them know you have nominated them.
5. Create 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

While I am really happy to answer the questions, I won't be nominating any bloggers, although I have added some some questions at the end, so if any of my lovely readers would like to take part, please do.  Here are Maria's questions:

1.  Do you prefer to drive or be chauffeured ?
I prefer to be chauffeured.  I can drive, but really don't enjoy it at all and get very stressed, so have managed to avoid it for five years!

2.  What skill or hobby would you like to learn?
In an ideal world, I think it would be silversmithing, although stone carving or wood carving also appeal. Realistically, I am going to do some crewel work, using wool rather than thread, to complete a Jacobean Tree design.  Judging from the pattern, it will take quite some time.

3.  Who is your favourite female singer?
Ooh, tricky one.  Classical singer - Joan Sutherland or Beverley Hoch (really high, beautiful coloratura soprano voices), and non-classical singer, probably Dinah Washington.
 Dame Joan Sutherland (photo from Wikipedia)
 Beverley Hoch (photo from www.twu.edu)

Dinah Washington (photo from Wikipedia)
4.  Name 3 historical people you would like to have afternoon tea with and why ?
Jane Austen, Anne Bronte and Elizabeth Siddal.  I really enjoy Jane Austen's novels, and I think she would have some wonderful observations to make.  I have always felt that Anne Bronte has been in the shadow of her two talented older sisters. but she wrote about people who did not have a voice at that time (governesses and abused wives), and tackled some social taboos from the point of view of women, so I think she would have been a fascinating person to talk to. Elizabeth Siddal was a Pre-Raphaelite model and and artist in her own right too.  She was the muse of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, became his wife and died tragically young.  I would love to find out more about the Pre-Raphaelite circle and about the models and wives from someone who was there.  
 Anne Bronte by Branwell Bronte (image from Wikipedia)
 Anne Bronte by Charlotte Bronte (image from Wikipedia)
 Elizabeth Siddal (self portrait) (image from Wikipedia)
Elizabeth Siddal at the easel (by Dante Gabriel Rossetti) (image from Wikipedia)
I think there would be some interesting (and strong) opinions voiced over the tea and scones!

5.  Your favourite beach in the UK?
Hunstanton, in Norfolk.  I spent many family holidays there, staying at a great aunt's house and have lots of happy and funny memories.

Hunstanton Cliffs (image from Wikipedia)

6.  Your favourite childhood story or character ?
Tricky one.  I liked E Nesbit's Five Children and It, The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley and many others, but if pushed, I think I'd have to choose 'The Children of Green Knowe' by L.M Boston.  I am planning to visit Hemingford Grey, the Green Knowe of the books, hopefully later this year.

7.  Your favourite thing to put on toast?
Raspberry Jam.

8.  What decor  would your "dream" home be..vintage, whitewashed/rustic , classical(Laura Ashley/Liberty) or modern?
Probably Classical - some florals, light pastel colours and nice high ceilings - square rooms would be good too.  Georgian or Victorian architecture are my favourites.

9.  Do you prefer written notes/lists or to record them onto phones/computers?
Written notes, definitely.  While I use my computer diary a lot at work, I still rely on written notes.

10. If you could swap places with someone for one week, who would it be and what would you do (or try to do)?
I would like to do something to help animals in some way, but I think that would need more than just one week.  Also, I'd be in tears most of the time, and if I wasn't crying, I would probably be really angry about all the cruelty.

Thanks, Maria - some really interesting questions there.  Well done for slogging your way through the answers!
Right, here are some questions, just in case anyone would like to answer them on their blogs.
1. What's your favourite colour?
2.  What's your favourite season and why?
3.  If you had a day off, what would you do?
4.  Period Drama or Sitcom?
5.  What's the best book you have ever read and why?
6.  Cats or Dogs?
7.  What's your favourite drink of choice?
8.  What's your favourite painting?
9.  Staycation or holiday abroad?
10. If you could go back to any time, when would it be?

If you do answer any of the questions, please let me know - I'd like to read your answers!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My first beaded Kumihimo jewellery - as seen on TV!

 You may remember that I started trying kumihimo ( a Japanese braiding technique) to use in my jewellery making.  I managed an eight strand braid in satin cord and was happy with that, but I really wanted to be able to add gemstones into the braid.

I bought this DVD from Jewellery Maker and watched it several times.  One of the projects featured was a Lariat style braided necklace, which you can see on the cover above and I knew I had to try it.  The thing I liked most was that it didn't use any findings (clasps, jump rings etc.).  

I gave myself a bit more of a challenge by using gemstone chips, which were a bit more tricky to thread on the the S-Lon thread I was using.  (This thread is my favourite at the moment).  I used clear nail varnish to create a 'needle' at the end of the threads and the chips went onto the thread much more easily. 
Braiding is a meditative process which I really enjoy and it can be picked up and put down as you wish.  So, having used some of my favourite colours and gemstones (sky blue apatite, neon blue apatite, amazonite and tanzanite), I decided to send a photo to Jewellery Maker Wall of Fame.  This is where JM features jewellery made by viewers from mainly JM supplies and they will show a selection on the morning shows. Everyone who enters (whether their photo is shown or not) is entered into a draw (which takes place on a Wednesday) to win £100 of credit or £50 of credit with JM.  That would be rather nice...
 I sent a photo in and forgot about it,  I was half watching the programme on Saturday when what should I see, but my necklace being featured! ( I managed to get the images from the JM bit on youtube - the shows are uploaded).  (I'm not being sponsored by JM - I am a customer and have been for at least four years).
 Here is my necklace's moment of fame!
 Here's a close up.  I was very excited, as you can imagine.  I am working on some more of these necklaces using 6mm gemstones.  I think I may be getting obsessed...

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Happy things in mid April

As I usually do, I have made some lemon curd - I associate the sunny yellow and slightly sharp taste with Spring.  I made a cake (the thought of lemon curd and buttercream was too much to resist) and to avoid the usual problem I have of the layers of buttercream and lemon curd fighting against each other and causing slippage of the top layer of cake, I mixed the lemon curd into the buttercream. Success!
 The cake stays intact, no slippage of the layers and the delicious lemon flavour comes through the buttercream.
 Other things making me happy are in the garden.  My Lathyrus vernus Alboroseus is flowering again...
 ...and the patio peony I bought last year - Madrid I think, or it could be Athens - has six buds.
It's the start of my tulip season and these Ballerina tulips (my favourite) were from last year or the year before as I planted them in the border after taking them out of their pots.  They are also earlier to flower than the ones I bought this year.
 Muscari latifolium which is my favourite grape hyacinth, due to the lovely shading.
New patio peonies, bought as bare roots last month.  This is 'Rome'.
 Another patio peony just nosing out of the ground.  Rome again (as I received two small and separate plants in the order, rather than one larger one.)
 An epimedium which I bought many years ago and thought was lost, has just made its presence known and is flowering beautifully.
 Erythronium Pagoda is also doing well.
 Clematis Alpina Rosy Pagoda has some buds...
...and one open flower.  I hope there will be lost more to enjoy for the next couple of weeks of April.

Monday, 11 April 2016


In October 2014, I had some sewing lessons to help my confidence, and made lots of interesting things, including a tunic dress (the Kate pattern from Sew Me Something) and I used some vintage material - see the photo above.  I really liked it and made several others in different material.  While  I wore the original, somehow the others just didn't feel comfortable around the shoulders and under the sleeves, so they languished.  The pattern has to be loose as there are no fastenings, but the shoulders were a bit too wide for me.  However, I bought the Beatrice pinafore pattern and when it arrived, having had a good look at it, I realised that I could take the sleeves off the tunics (using the Beatrice pattern to help me), bind the edges and wear them as pinafores with a long sleeved t-shirt and leggings.  So that's what I did!
 I now have several pinafores ready to go - I love this flowery material as it makes me smile.
 This was a 'ditsy' floral print bought from a vintage fair.
 This one was floral baby cord and I have worn it quite a bit, including to work.
This white and grey floral will be great as I can put pretty much any coloured top under it.  I have since bought some green floral material and am going to challenge myself by creating my own bias binding.
I have more material waiting and I am thinking I may make another one...or two...

Monday, 4 April 2016

Tea cup and Mug Exchange - results

 I have recently completed another swap, although this one was an exchange.  It was the 8th Annual Tea cup and Mug exchange, organised by Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose.  The idea is a lovely one - send a tea cup or mug along with tea or coffee and other gifts (if you wanted to add any extras) to your recipient.  Someone else would send you a gift too.  I signed up and was sent my recipient's details - Sandra at Ravenhill Cottage.  You could also add in some details about yourself, such as favourite colours, blog information, hobbies.  So, I sent my parcel off to Sandra in Canada and duly received a parcel back from Mary in the USA.  She had obviously done her homework and had chosen the most lovely gifts.  There was a beautiful mug with blue flowers on it, two very generously sized pieces of material (which I was very excited about), black tea and white tea, handmade earrings in the shape of seeds and some petunia seeds.
 I think she had chosen beautifully for me!
How pretty are the earrings?  A HUGE thank you to Mary for the generous and thoughtful gifts. I am really looking forward to making something with the material.
 I found out that my recipient liked pink and purple, so off I went.  I made a bookmark, pearl earrings, a bracelet, and added a tea bag stand and English breakfast tea.
 Sandra had asked for a mug (as I had too) and I found this one with pinks and purples and cups on it.
Here were the gifts ready to be securely packaged up.  It was an incredibly straightforward exchange thanks to Stephanie's wonderful organisation (it must have been a mammoth task requiring military precision) and I really enjoyed taking part.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter celebrations

Easter has come to my seasonal tree now, and the multitude of eggs have arrived!  I do like this time of year when the clocks go forward and the light is with us for longer.  If we get a bit of sunshine, it's even better!
 I baked some biscuits in the shape of chicks and rabbits.
 I also received my Easter swap from Amanda at Graham's Landing.  The swap was organised by Kimberley at Creative Chaos  and was another lovely swap to be part of.  Amanda had wrapped the parcels in pretty pastel tissue paper.
 Here's what was inside:  rabbit chocolates, pastel ribbon, Easter stickers, Easter chicks, egg decorations, eggs in nests, a Happy Easter decoration and a knitted chick.
 The knitted chick was really sweet...
 ...and it also held rather a yummy surprise!
 Here's what I sent to Amanda: cupcake cases and decorations, mini eggs, Easter cutters, cosmos seeds, ribbon, a chick decoration and a felt decoration with some jewellery (of course!).  A Huge Thank You to Amanda for her generosity and for being such a great swap partner and thanks also to Kimberley for organising the swap.
I think this says it all - for those who celebrate it, have a very Happy Easter.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Two swaps

 I have taken part in lots of swaps so far this year and here is the Stationery Swap (organised by Tracy from Mad About Bags).  I was partnered with Amanda from Graham's Landing and we did the usual email chat to find out likes and dislikes and got swapping.  I was stunned by Amanda's generosity!  We had to swap five things, one of which needed to be hand made. I loved the beautiful tissue paper the gifts were wrapped in.
 Here is a photo of the whole parcel - Amanda had put together a wonderful mixture of unusual items...
 ...stickers, postcards, number pegs, envelopes...
 ...writing set, notebook and more stickers and trims.  There was also a lovely felted notebook cover with a heart.  I love it all - you can never have too much stationery, can you?  Thank you so much to Amanda for being a fantastic swap partner.
Here's what I sent to Amanda, including a bookmark I made incorporating some of her favourite blues.  It was a great swap and thanks to Tracy for organising.
The other swap I recently took part in was organised by Kimberley from Creative Chaos and I was partnered with the lady herself!  (I must say how fantastic the postal service was - my parcel got to New Zealand in five and a half days!)  This was the Send Us Your Country swap and the idea was to do just that - send things from your country and your area.  Again, I have to say how generous people are in blog swaps!  The photo above shows the mountain of goodies Kimberley sent to me.
Lovely wool socks, tea...
sweets, a Kiwi pencil, postcards, a kiwi key ring...
 a beautiful bright and vibrant bag (perfect for shopping!)...
 a gorgeous cushion featuring New Zealand flora and fauna (Kiwi and Tui birds)...
...the sweets and chocolate haven't lasted long, but were much enjoyed!  Thank you so much to Kimberley for both organising the swap and being such a wonderful swap partner.
Here's what I sent to Kimberley - Lincolnshire postcards and note cards, a ceramic K by a local maker, stationery items, English Breakfast tea from a local tea shop, a bracelet and felt heart, fridge magnets and ribbon.
I have been so lucky with my swap partners (and all the lovely gifts I have been sent) and have really enjoyed taking part in all the swaps I have done over the years.
There are two more swaps to report back on in the next week or so - an Easter swap and a Tea cup/Mug exchange.